31. The Buddha's Last Words
the conversion of Subhadda, the Buddha spoke again to Venerable
Ananda. "It may be, Ananda, that some of you will say,
'without the Buddha, the Sublime Teacher, there is no teacher
for us'. No, Ananda, you should not think in this way. Whatever
doctrine and discipline taught and made known by me will
be your teacher when I am gone."
the Buddha, addressing the other monks said, "If any
amongst you has any doubts as to the Buddha, the teaching,
or the order of monks, ask me now so that afterwards you
may have no cause to regret that you did not ask me while I
was still with you."
at these words, none of the monks said anything. None had
any questions, and all of them were silent. For the second
and third time the Buddha addressed the monks in this way.
And for the second and third time, all the monks were silent.
Buddha said, "Perhaps it may be out of respect for
the teacher, that you do not question me. Let a friend,
O disciples, tell it to another friend." Still the
disciples remained silent.
Venerable Ananda spoke to the Buddha, "It is wonderful.
It is marvellous, Lord! I do believe that in all this great
company of monks there is not a single one who has doubts
or questions about the Buddha, the teaching or the order
of monks, or the path and the method of training and conduct."
you, Ananda," said the Buddha, "this may be a
matter of faith and belief. But, Ananda, I know that not
one single monk gathered here has any doubt or question
about these things; of all the 500 monks here, Ananda, he
who is the most backward is a sotapanna, not subject to
fall back to a lower state of existence, but is certain
and destined for enlightenment."
the Buddha addressed all the monks once more, and these
were the very last words he spoke:
O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things
in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work
hard to gain your liberation."
the Buddha lapsed into the jhana stages, or meditative absorptions.
Going from level to level, one after the other, ever deeper
and deeper. Then he came out of the meditative absorption
for the last time and passed into Nirvana, leaving nothing
whatever behind that can cause rebirth again in this or
any other world.
passing away, or the final Nirvana of the Buddha, occurred
in 543 BC on a full-moon day in the month of May, known
in the Indian calendar as Vesak.